Vitality Superleague Round Eight: Talking points

The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday with Round Eight, which includes some intriguing head-to-heads between players and coaches.

After two victories in Round Seven, Team Bath Netball moved to the top of the Vitality Netball Superleague table which means they start this weekend with a three-point cushion over Loughborough Lightning.

Meanwhile at the other end of the table, Celtic Dragons remain without a victory and both Severn Stars and London Pulse are still looking for their second wins of the season.

Here we take a look at some of the key talking points ahead of Round Eight…

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Vitality Netball Superleague – Round Eight Fixtures

Vimkhumbo’s stats and the challenge of Cholhok

First of all, let’s talk about Strathclyde Sirens’ Towera Vimkhumbo and the impact that she’s having on the league and on Sirens’ output.

Vimkhumbo, who was procured outside of the signing window as a replacement for the injured Zanele Vimbela, hasn’t missed a beat in the opening seven rounds.

The Malawi international has shown time and again how effective she can be. She reads the game superbly; she flies out to pick off interceptions all over the goal third and also hassles superbly man-on with any shooter.

Vitality Netball Superleague – Defensive Statistics

Vimkhumbo has made 30 interceptions in eight matches, nine more than any other player in the league, and she has also made 24 deflections and secured 44 turnovers.

The only small blot on her copybook is the 93 penalties against her, which is second-most in the league, however that number hasn’t seemed to hinder Sirens significantly.

This weekend, Vimkhumbo will be in direct competition with the 6ft 7in shooter Mary Cholhok. Lightning’s shooter not only has height on her side, but she’s also mobile with a great split landing.

Earlier on in the season, Halimat Adio and Zara Everitt helped to show how a team can disrupt Lightning’s shooting end and it will be fascinating to see the impact that Vimkhumbo and Emily Nicholl have.

Sunday’s coaching clash

In sport, when great head coaches face-off against each other it’s always incredible to watch. In netball, it often turns into a bit of a chess match as one coach makes a move and then the other responds.

Already this season, Tamsin Greenway has talked in her column about the impact of the third quarter and the role that a head coach has in making sure that they’re one step ahead of the other team.

Often when you’re winning, the conversation between the players is all about the good things that are happening and as a coach, you need to also highlight that the other team are likely to have noticed them too. You need to be a step ahead of them.

Tamsin Greenway

On Sunday, when Leeds Rhinos Netball face Manchester Thunder you’ll have Dan Ryan and Karen Greig duelling, two head coaches who know each other extremely well.

Having worked together at Thunder twice previously, the pair will know each other’s styles and then you can add Tracey Neville into that mix too!

In short, there’s going to be a lot of netball knowledge coming together in one Vitality Netball Superleague match when Manchester Thunder and Leeds Rhinos Netball meet on Sunday afternoon!

Bessell demands more from Stars

After Stars’ 42-38 loss to Leeds Rhinos Netball in Round Seven, and a match in which they were just two goals down with a minute to go, head coach Melissa Bessell made her feelings clear during her post-match interview.

“That wasn’t a good performance at all, we gave that game to them,” Bessell said. “There were so many times when we could have taken that game forwards and we didn’t.

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“In crucial and critical moments, and I’ve been saying this from day one, we just cannot push forwards. The players are going to have to travel home tonight, take that loss and I hope they feel it because they have to.

“I’m not saying that we were going to win that game easily, but we’ve got to stop giving teams [matches] and bowing down. It’s not good enough and it’s unacceptable.”

Bessell will always give an open assessment after matches, she does that in victory and defeat, and these frank words will have come from her knowing exactly what her players are capable of.

This round, Stars take on Saracens Mavericks on Monday night and after Bessell’s words, you’d expect that their training week would have been quite an intense one!

Sky Sports is your home of netball. The Vitality Netball Superleague continues on Sunday with Round Eight and four matches back to back, streamed live on the Sky Sports YouTube channel from 12pm.

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